Never date your best friend
Always be original
Sometimes rules are meant to be broken
Best friends Dave and Julia were determined to never be cliché high school kids—the ones who sit at the same lunch table every day, dissecting the drama from homeroom and plotting their campaigns for prom king and queen. They even wrote their own Never List of everything they vowed they’d never, ever do in high school.
Some of the rules have been easy to follow, like #5, never die your hair a color of the rainbow, or #7, never hook up with a teacher. But Dave has a secret: he’s broken rule #8, never pine silently after someone for the entirety of high school. It’s either that or break rule #10, never date your best friend. Dave has loved Julia for as long as he can remember.
Julia is beautiful, wild and impetuous. So when she suggests they do every Never on the list, Dave is happy to play along. He even dyes his hair an unfortunate shade of green. It starts as a joke, but then a funny thing happens: Dave and Julia discover that by skipping the clichés, they’ve actually been missing out on high school. And maybe even on love.
Okay, first of all: don’t go into this book NOT expecting a romance novel. This book is almost completely teen romance. If you don’t like romance plots, then this is probably not the book for you. I don’t usually go for the YA Romance reads, so my review may be a bit limited.
I read this book in like two days. It’s easy to read, not too dense or too light, and not very long either so that helps. The narrative switches back and forth between the perspectives of Dave and Julia, which I rather liked because I was afraid Dave’s first section was veering into the whiny friendzone territory. It was nice to see things from the other person’s point of view, and I think the first switch came at just the right time – and actually made me want to keep reading.
This book reminded me that cliches have stuck around for a reason – every cliche is based on a kernel of truth. They’re often ubiquitous or unavoidable, much to Dave’s and to Julia’s chagrin. As they try so hard to avoid cliches, they end up ignoring certain truths right in front of their eyes. Learning this is part of each character’s journey.
Expect all the cutesy stuff that comes with YA Romance, including a really adorable prom-posal. My heart did some flip-flops while I was reading Never Always Sometimes and I’m not gonna deny it. But, it was not exactly Stephanie Perkins level squeal worthy, at least not for me. My tip for people who want to read Never Always Sometimes is to embrace the cliches as they play a large part in the novel’s plot.
Another major theme in this book is the (often confusing) similarity between how close friendships and being in love feel. There’s a lot of overlap in emotions, which can cause one to masquerade as the other. As the characters examine their own feelings of heartbreak and love, they learn exactly how similar these two types of relationships can feel. In some cases, they’re almost the exact same. I know I’m not describing this theme in the way I want to, but I thought Alsaid’s portrayals of friend-love and romantic-love were incredibly accurate and thought-provoking. These characters learn this huge lesson relatively early on in life.
What really sealed the deal for me on this one was the ending though. After I read the last page, I was struck by how truly mature the protagonists were in their decisions. Everything ended up all right even if it may not have been the way David and Julia thought it would at the beginning. This only cements their character development – their decisions in the end are unexpectedly fitting.
If what you’ve just read is interesting to you, I’d recommend taking a look at this one. Maybe Never Always Sometimes will be a good fit for you, maybe it won’t. I know a lot of people are picky about what YA romances they read, but this is one book I wouldn’t have bought or read myself if I hadn’t been given an ARC, so I’m very thankful for that. I’d say give it a chance, it may surprise you! 🙂
About the Author
Adi Alsaid was born and raised in Mexico City, then studied at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. While in class, he mostly read fiction and continuously failed to fill out crossword puzzles, so it’s no surprise that after graduating, he did not go into business world but rather packed up his apartment into his car and escaped to the California coastline to become a writer. He’s now back in his hometown, where he writes, coaches high school and elementary basketball, and has perfected the art of making every dish he eats or cooks as spicy as possible. In addition to Mexico, he’s lived in Tel Aviv, Las Vegas, and Monterey, California.
P.S. I definitely haven’t been blogging as much as I’ve wanted to this summer, especially lately. I’d been gearing up for a big move and it was taking a lot more of my time and focus than I’d planned on. But hopefully over the next few weeks I’ll be back to a relatively normal schedule!